Turning it off

I’ve written and deleted this post several times now, because it keeps emitting these irritating high-pitched noises that sound a lot like whining. Well, damnit, I’m in the mood to whine. Here, I’ve filled a glass just for you. Help yourself to the cheese and crackers.

This summer has been difficult on all fronts and has left me feeling depressed and discouraged and fatigued and, yes, whiny. The unrelenting excessive heat and humidity have made everything that much more miserable, and combined with increased stress at the day job and the looming possibility of unemployment, the decision not to attend conferences and feeling left out of meet-ups, the inability to travel to faraway gatherings of imaginary friends, trying (and mostly failing) to concentrate on writing, watching the slow implosion of traditional publishing, worrying about BEARS . . . and attempting to be outwardly cheerful and upbeat and entertaining through all that has taken a toll on my optimism and ability to concentrate.

I need a break. I need “a piece of quiet” as my daughter used to say when she was little. I need to reduce the distractions that are sapping my energy and cluttering up my brain. At least for a while. Hell, I need to pretend I live in Europe, where August is optional.

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.  ~Albert Camus

The coming month will see some big changes in my life. More specifically, in the lives of my children. After two years of job demands keeping them in different cities, my son and his girlfriend are now employed in the same city (my city, yay!) and will be moving into an apartment together next weekend. I’m delighted for them, especially since they’ve said I’m not allowed to lift any of the heavy boxes.

My daughter will be coming home that same weekend, after an exhausting but exhilarating summer spent taunting BEARS, to pack up the rest of her belongings (and The Intruder Cat) and will spend a couple weeks here before relocating to New Orleans, where her boyfriend is starting med school and where she will (we hope) find a job in her career field. I’m delighted for her too, even though I hate that she’ll be so far away. I figure if I tell her BEARS have been sighted in the wilds of the back yard, she’ll visit often.

Also during the next month or so, I suspect the economic fate of my employer will be determined, for better or worse. And during this same month, I hope to finish the final draft of my manuscript so I can send it to beta readers. Yeah, I’m not holding my breath on that one, but it’s a goal. Putting it in writing here makes it seem like it might even happen.

That’s a lot of stuff. It’s going to require, and it deserves, my attention and energy. Quite honestly, to retain what’s left of my sanity, I need to stop doing the things that are not strictly required of me. And most of those things involve the internet.

Escaping the Web*

I’ve already told people on Twitter not to expect to hear from me for a while. In fact, I’ve shut down TweetDeck and don’t plan to re-open it anytime soon. I’m also going to stop reading blogs. All of them. Yes, even the CB blog. For now, anyway. If anyone really truly desperately needs me, the form on the contact page goes straight to my email inbox. Use it wisely.

I don’t know whether I’ll continue to write posts over here in August. Most of my blogging “breaks” have been unintentional — every time I say I’m going to take a break, I find fifteen things I just have to write about. We’ll see how that goes. Probably I’ll post more of Aunt Mabel’s letters. Meant to do that earlier this summer and . . . got distracted.

So that’s the plan. I don’t expect it to be easy. The thought of closing my browser and not opening it except to check email and the weather is, well, scary. Plus, I’ll miss everyone. But right now the internet is not my friend. I’m sure I’ll resume the addiction relationship once life calms down. Believe me, you all will know it when I come back.

In the meantime, behave. Badly or well, I’ll leave up to you.

*Isn’t this cute? (well, for a spider) For more fun badges (and to see which ones you might have “earned”), visit the Merit Badger blog.

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Filed under blogging, creativity, goals, health and well-being

15 responses to “Turning it off

  1. Excellent Camus quote. Thanks for sharing.


  2. You’re welcome, tsactuo. And thank you for stopping by. I’ve used that quote before and it seems to resonate with every writer I know. We’re an odd bunch, aren’t we.


  3. Tam

    I think turning off is a great idea. Thursday afternoon I unplugged my cable box and returned it to Time Warner because the drain on my time was remarkable. As soon as I walked in from work the television went on and stayed on until 1 or 2 in the morning. Work on my novel has been sporadic, though I know that time waits for no man. I’m thinking about turning off my internet service as well, but we’ll see.

    I wish you the best for your quiet time and I hope that you are productive and take time to enjoy the company of your loved ones.


  4. Thanks, Tam, and good for you for shutting down the TV! I don’t watch much TV, maybe three or four shows each week, but even that seems intrusive sometimes. I know how hard it is after a long day at work to come home and resist the lure of entertainment (TV or internet, or even reading) and instead try to focus on the demands of writing. Wishing you quiet time too, and successful steady progress on your novel.


  5. Good luck with the quiet time! Yep, I think it’s definitely needed at times. And good for you for recognizing this and making a conscious choice. (Plus, I want to read your finished book someday, so yeah, selfish here.)

    The CBs will be here when you are ready to resume interweb communications. 🙂


  6. Robin S.

    Sending you hopes and wishes that the break leaves you refreshed and energized with a novel done that will break all records on the NYT.

    Have fun with the kids. Shoo the bears away and be rejuvinated.


  7. Robin S.

    Um, that would be rejuvenated.


  8. Shutting off from the web? Shudder! Although we have Big Deluxe TV and Every Station Known To Man, I don’t watch much of it and only use it as a Husband-Sitter. That way he’s mesmerized and I can go my *merry way and do the stuff I like.

    So go and shut yourself off, kick ass and take names. Or at least make up names and write them into stories. I will anxiously await your triumphant return.


  9. Thanks, guys, for the support and good wishes. And the understanding. It wasn’t too bad at work today, since I can’t really check blogs or twitter there anyway, but now that I’m home I’m definitely sitting here feeling all squirmy and antsy like I’m missing something. Guess that’s the point. I’m missing all sorts of things. And yet, I’m not really missing anything.

    As for the book, I’ll just be relieved if anyone is still around who might want to represent me and publish it once I’m done.

    Okay, back to the Dark Ages for me. Later.


  10. McB

    I totally understand the need to burrow in and block out as much of the outside world as you can. Just because you can track events and people around the world doesn’t mean that you have to 24/7. Drop in when you are ready, and if you have a need to vent sometime off the grid, you know how to reach me.


  11. Thanks, McB. I know I’ve brought much of this stressed out crazy on myself — I really need to figure out how to monitor and control input on a daily basis so I don’t end up feeling so overloaded. For now, a total break feels like the right thing to do. It’s only been two days, but I can already tell a difference. Now if only I could take the rest of the month off work, with pay…

    And yes, I’ve got your number. 8)


  12. I feel so rejected.
    Cast adrift.


  13. Oh noes! The whining is contagious!

    It’s only three more weeks. Pretend I’m Xenia and am off on a dig in Italy with no internet connection and only a trowel and bucket and grad students to keep me company.

    Wait. Now I’m feeling adrift.


  14. The internet can be a big distraction. Can really interrupt writing flow. I don’t watch TV – though we have 7 (for only 2 people). And South Florida – you can have it. Too humid. At least I get to go home on weekends. Good Luck. Write Well. DE


  15. Dave! You have 7 TVs?! Okay, how many of them actually work? 😉

    I lived in South Florida for four years and made some wonderful friends I was sorry to leave behind. But that was just waaaay too far south for someone who was born in Minnesota.

    I clicked over and read some of your recent blog posts and holy guacamole, man, you have got some awesomely heavy job responsibilities down there. Good luck with that! Wishing you time and energy and inspiration to Write Well too.